Getting the Big Picture: A Longitudinal Study of Adaptation and Identity in a New Zealand University

  • Gillian Skyrme
  • Cynthia White


In the early years of this decade, certain sections of New Zealand universities were taken by surprise by the unprecedented demand for places from a new cohort of students of which they had very limited experience, and whose previous educational experience had been within a markedly different academic culture: Chinese international students. The presence of international students was not a novelty. New Zealand had a history of providing university education for international students as part of its close relationship with Pacific Island nations, and through participation in the Colombo Plan, a British Commonwealth initiative to promote influence on developing Asian countries (which for historical reasons did not include the People’s Republic of China). By the end of the last century, however, self-interested altruism had been replaced by a business model of recruiting full-fee-paying students, and the primary sources of such students were changing. National statistics provide something of the story: in 1998, 89 university students came from China to New Zealand; by 2002, that number had jumped to 11,700, more than half the full-fee students at public tertiary institutions (Tarling, 2004: 223). What these statistics do not show, however, is their concentration in particular subjects, such as undergraduate business studies.


International Student Chinese Student Academic Culture Multilingual Matter Language Centre 
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© Gillian Skyrme and Cynthia White 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gillian Skyrme
  • Cynthia White

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